Wisconsin Religious Discrimination laws & HR compliance analysis

Wisconsin Religious Discrimination: What you need to know

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act prohibits discrimination in employment because of creed (WI Gen. Stat. Sec. 111.31 et seq.). The term “creed,” as used in the Act, refers to a system of religious beliefs (including moral or ethical beliefs about right and wrong) that are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views. The Act applies to all employers in the state, both public and private, regardless of the number of their employees. The Act also prohibits retaliation against persons who assert their legal rights or who assist others in doing so.
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Exceptions. A nonprofit, religious association or an organization or corporation that is primarily owned or controlled by such a religious association may give preference to an applicant or employee who is a member of the same or a similar religious denomination (WI Gen. Stat. Sec. 111.337).
These associations, organizations, and corporations may also grant a preference to an applicant or employee who follows the religious association's creed, if the job description shows that the position is clearly related to the religious teachings and beliefs of the association.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a former employee who claimed derogatory remarks made by a manager who was not his supervisor, along with management warnings about pro-Muslim articles written by the employee, provided sufficient evidence of discrimination for the employee to proceed to trial (Hasan v. Foley and Lardner LLP, 552 F.3d 520 (7th Cir. 2008)). In this case, the employee, a Muslim attorney, alleged that his work assignments decreased significantly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The decrease in his billable hours eventually led to the ...

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